PH seeks US trade, investment aid for Bangsamoro, Yolanda-hit areas
MANILA, Philippines—The Philippine government will pitch to the US Congress a piece of legislation aimed at boosting trade and investments in the areas badly affected by Super Typhoon Yolanda, as well as the underdeveloped parts of the newly formed Bangsamoro in Mindanao, according to Manila’s envoy to Washington.
The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) is currently working on this initiative which, once filed in the US Congress, may replace the ongoing lobby for the Save Our Industries, or SAVE Act, Philippine Ambassador to the United States Jose L. Cuisia Jr. told reporters last week.
SAVE Act, which seeks preferential tariff treatment on Philippine garments exports to the United States, failed to pass in the 111th and 112th US Congress. It was not refiled in the current Congress.
“I don’t know if we can say we’re giving up on it—there’s been no formal decision saying we’ll forget about SAVE Act. But if we already have the other bill, we should focus on that and not focus on SAVE Act. We have to make a choice and focus on that,” Cuisia said.
Cuisia said a bill that would cover more than just preferential treatment for garments could be a better option, citing that a trade preference agreement would be deemed a violation of World Trade Organization (WTO) rules.
“We have to make sure that whatever bill we come up with, we are in compliance with the WTO,” he explained.
Also, Cuisia said that, amid the ongoing negotiations between the United States and its partners in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) free trade agreement, the participating countries could object to any special treatment enjoyed by other trading partners outside the group.
The proposed US legislation will instead focus on rehabilitation efforts in the areas affected by last year’s super typhoon, and may also include the development of Mindanao, the ambassador said.
“The Bangsamoro peace agreement also presents opportunity for us to establish business there,” Cuisia noted.
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